Who needs a prosthetic arm when you can have a steampunk tattoo machine arm instead?

tattoo gun prosthetic arm jc sheitan tenet
JC Sheitan Tenet/Facebook

Losing an arm can be devastating for an artist. Just ask JC Sheitan Tenet of Lyon, France, who figured after he lost his right arm in an accident 22 years ago that he’d never be able to draw again. Sheitan found ways to make do, even becoming renowned in the French tattooing community for his work on mechanized taxidermies and skulls.

That may soon change. Fellow French artist JL Gonzal got wind of Tenet’s plight, and the result is an impressive piece of machinery. Gonzal has created what might be one the first prosthetic arms that does double duty as a tattoo gun.

The prosthesis integrates pieces from a typewriter, manometer, and various pipes; and is attached to Tenet’s current prosthesis along with pieces from an actual tattoo machine. Gonzal cautions that his creation is a prototype though, and there are still a few things left to be worked out.

For example, the tattoo gun uses disposable needles and cartridges to work, and while it can be taken apart to be cleaned and properly sterilized, it takes way too long for it to be practical for daily use. Still, the reaction to Gonzal’s work has been pretty positive.

Attendees at a recent tattoo convention in Devézieux, France were the first to see it, and a Facebook page called ‘Steampunk Tendencies’ posted last week shows Tenet using the prosthesis to tattoo a convention attendee’s leg. While Tenet is pretty humble about it — calling it a “kinetic sculpture” to those who got to see it — he told Motherboard last week that people quickly realized it was much more than just that.

“At the convention, people said ‘What the f**k is that!? That’s f**king cool!'” he told the website in an interview. It indeed is: while it looks heavy, Gonzal designed it to make it as light as possible, and it gives Tenet full movement to tattoo intricate designs. While Tenet needs to move his shoulder and upper arm to move the tattoo gun, the two hope in future designs to allow him to incorporate wrist and finger-like movements.

We can’t wait to see what comes next.